Brigadier-General Festus Okechukwu Okonkwo, the Commander of the Economic Community Mission in Liberia (ECOMIL)

He was born on May 30th, 1951 at Agbani in present day Enugu State (actually he is by ethnicity/ancestry from Enugwu-Agidi in Anambra State).  He is married to Selinah Ifeoma Okonkwo and blessed with three children.

He is a regular combatant, having been commissioned with Course 13 of the Nigerian Defence Academy. Deployed to the Recce (later Armoured) Corps, he underwent the Young Officers Armour Course at the Nigerian Army Armoured Corps School, then located at Ibadan. He has since undergone a variety of other training courses in Infantry and Armoured warfare as well as High Command, Staff work, and Defence Policy. These include the Jungle Warfare and Combat Survival Course at the School of Infantry, Jaji,  T-55 Tank Company Commanders Course, USSR, Junior and Senior Division Staff Courses, Command and Staff College Jaji, Tank Technology Course, Institute of Armament Technology, Poona, India, Armour Officers Advanced Course, USA and the National War College (NWC), Abuja, Nigeria. Following his stint at the NWC, he completed an M.A. in Strategic Studies at the University of Ibadan.

Over the years, he has held numerous appointments, spanning staff, command, teaching and diplomatic arenas in what has clearly been a very balanced professional career. 


He has held operational command at the Platoon, Company, Battalion, and Brigade-plus equivalent levels, including prior command of the ECOMOG Ground Task Force, Liberia from 1994-96. In that capacity, he led three (3) Nigerian Army battalions, one (1) battalion fron Sierra Leone, two (2) Infantry Companies from Ghana Army and one (1)Platoon from the Guinea Army.  His task in that tour of duty was the protection of Monrovia.

Okonkwo has also served as the Deputy Commandant at the Armoured Corps Centre and School in Bauchi.


He was a Senior Instructor at the Armoured Corps Center and School, Bauchi and Directing Staff at the Command and Staff College, Jaji.


Brigadier Okonkwo has held a number of sensitive Staff Appointments.  These include Colonel (Operations), Army Headquarters, Acting Director of Operations, Army Headquarters, Acting Director of Training, Army Headquarters, Director Army Support Training Centre Headquarters at TRADOC and Principal Staff Officer (Coordination), Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji.


He served as the Nigerian Defence Adviser at the Embassy of Nigeria, Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia.


His list of service awards include Forces Service Staff (FSS), Meritorious Service Star (MSS), Passed Staff College (PSC +), Fellow of War College (FWC).  He won the Chief of Defence Staff Award at National War College Course 10 for writing a paper titled, “OAU/AU Mechanism for Conflict Management and Evaluation.”

This column wishes him well in his latest assignment back in Liberia.  

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